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Fri 25 Jul 2014
Mae Naak Shrine
Written by Siraporn Nathalang   
Friday, 09 February 2007 22:36

The Mae Naak shrine, which is supposedly her burial place, is located at the edge of the Wat Mahabute compound in On Nut, Sukhumwit Soi 77, Bangkok. Her famed shrine attracts visitors from far and near, and the close by monastery as well as the neighborhood peddlers all benefit from her great popularity.

Sweet incense and flower garlands perfume the air in the front part of the shrine when one enters her "home". With a donation of twenty baht, an offering package including stick incense, a piece of paper with a stamp-size gold leaf, and a yellow candle is available; a bundle of orchids and bottles of fragrance can be added by paying a little more. Pious worshipers, of course, would prepare their own floral wreaths, fresh fruit, and khanom as extra oblation. Colorful dresses, cosmetic products, together with various accessories presented by her believers fill every inch of the chamber. Toys, diapers, and milk bottles are heaped up as gifts for her child.

 

 

 

People are paying their respect to Mae Naak in picture 1 and in picture 2 is Mae Naak's image. Third picture is stuff for her child and television for her that's on all the time. There are footballs, dolls, toy cars, etc. for her child and cosmetics for her like lipstick, soap, shampoo, etc.

The devotees kneel and pray to her statue, which sits at the rear of the room and faces a television that is kept on all the time. After paying their respect or registering their requests, some would go to the back of the house and apply squares of thin gold leaf to her statue. The Nang Naak figure is reputed to be made from soil gathered from seven different cemeteries under local auspicious belief. The shrine attendants, moreover, regularly lather the statue with ointment to make her "skin" softer and more real.

 

 

 

People buy turtles, birds, eels and fish to set free. They do this to make merit. In the third picture , people are selling lottery tickets to the people who come to visit this temple.

Nang Naak has brought fortune and guardianship to many individuals along with the local community, so her devotees believe. Apart from general blessings and protection, Mae Naak is benevolent at giving out winning lottery numbers. On the eve of the lottery draw, the shrine is particularly busy. Ticket sellers, fortunetellers, and merit-offering vendors of fish and bird flock the area, and they all seem to enjoy lucrative business. Mae Naak, furthermore, is popular among young men who are going to attend another "lucky draw", the so-called "red bean black bean" draft. Since Nang Naak's grief and misfortune was caused by military conscription, she is believed to detest the call-ups and naturally becomes the patron deity for those who want to get out of it. Notwithstanding, bestowing fertility and pregnancy are not her specialty. Expectant mothers are often advised to avoid visiting her for obvious reason.

 

 

 

They are looking for the lottery number at Takian tree in the 1st picture. The 2nd and 3rd pictures show the area for telling your fortune. There are dozens and dozens of tables there.

Next to her shrine arise two tall, ancient takian trees, swathed with resplendent fabrics and spotted with yellow candle wax. Thais always relate aged large trees to ghosts or spirits, and in this case, these lumpy old takians that shade the resting place of Nang Naak are particularly powerful. With the natural latex from the cracks and constant rubbing from worshipers, the surfaces of the tree are uncannily smooth. Through scrubbing the wood, the fortuitous devotees will find winning lottery numbers revealed by the spirit. On the other hand, Nang Naak hasother mightily and magical neighbors who can also grant wishes and offer comforts. In a nearby wihan, enthusiastic worshipers pray and shake the fortune siemsee in front of not only the Lord Buddha images but also a glass coffin in which lies the corpse of a kuman thawng "golden child". A wooden altar behind Nang Naak's shrine houses a trio of deities ranging from Hindu gods to a Chinese Goddess. Along with the Mahabute temple, the whole compound has become a spiritual wonderland of different religions and indigenous beliefs.

HOW TO GET THERE: Take the skytrain to the On Nut station. On the east side of Sukhumwit Road, you will find Soi 77. Mahabute temple is about 900 metres down this road on the left. Look out for Soi 7. The temple is alongside a canal at the end of Soi 7.

COPYRIGHT INFORMATION: "Thai Folklore: Insights into Thai Culture" by Siraporn Nathalang.
All photographs by Panrit "Gor" Daoruang.